May 18, 2012

Nurses' name tags have names on them, right?

I have seen reports that some nursing programs are eliminating last names from student name tags for security purposes. This is troubling to me for several reasons. The purpose of the name tag is so patients and other staff can identify you. That is part of the openness necessary for patient praise or complaints. Nursing students are also new faces to the staff on a unit who also may need to identify a student. The other issue is one of professionalism. It is fine for my mechanic or waitress to display only first name because that is all the information I need in this transaction; but professionals should exhibit a little more formality. I really don't want my neurosurgeon to only be known as Doctor Phil. A physician-patient and nurse-patient relationship needs to be at a high level of trust. When a nurse refuses to reveal her last name then the message is sent to all patients that they are not trusted.

We give up much in the name of security even when it protects very little. Anecdotal stories of nurses being stalked are not enough to make decisions that diminish the role of nurses in patient care. A patient crazy enough to stalk a nurse or nursing student is probably also resourceful enough to find out her last name.
Nursing faculty need to be modeling a professional image for students. Cowering in fear over minimal risks sends the wrong message to students and patients.
Let's keep full names on the name tags of nursing students and faculty. Send a message to your students and patients that we are professionals engaged in mutual trust.

Now let me tell you what I think of the security measures of the TSA...

May 9, 2012

Calculators in Clinical? I sure hope so.

Recently I heard about a nursing clinical faculty member who refuses to let students use a calculator in the clinical setting. I was stunned. Not knowing the rationale for this policy I will speculate that teacher thinks using a calculator will somehow soften students' thinking, or make them reliant on a machine that may not be available. Neither of these rationales have much merit.

Clinical education needs to focus on teaching students how to solve clinical problems. The overriding educational principle should be on how nurses would solve those problems and teach students that process. I cannot imagine a nurse refusing to use a calculator to check a dosage or other calculation.

We need to keep focusing on what skills students really need to function clinically. Calculators are ubiquitous. Even the NCLEX-RN exam has a pop-up calculator. Scenarios of blackouts or no calculators on a unit are too farfetched for faculty to be worrying about in our limited time with students.

This principle needs to be applied to all of our faculty decisions. Ask yourself if your methods of teaching or your assignments are helping students to make good clinical decisions? If are they vestiges of teaching the way your were taught, or an attempt to "toughen them up" then please let me know why they are still used?